BOSTON -- Pitcher Derek Holland threw 50 pitches in a simulated game in Surprise, Ariz., on Saturday without any problems. His next step will be pitching for the Arizona Rookie League Rangers on a medical rehabilitation start on Friday. If that goes well, Holland will likely be assigned to either Double-A Frisco or Triple-A Oklahoma.The goal is still to get Holland stretched back out as a starter, even though the Rangers might have a more pressing need in the bullpen. Dustin Nippert, the club's long reliever, has been used just three times since starting against the Pirates on June 23. In those three outings, he has allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings. "We want to get Derek back and stretched out so he can be a rotation option," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "He might be a bullpen option at some point, but in general, we'd like for him to be ready to be in the rotation." Holland has been on the disabled list since the end of May with inflammation in his left shoulder and a sprained right knee. Rich Harden showed he's still not close to returning to the rotation. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 31/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City against Iowa on Friday. He threw 67 pitches. Harden, who is on the disabled list with a strained lower back muscle, will start again Wednesday against Iowa, but it's likely he'll need one more start after that.
Molina a bit sore, but in starting lineup
BOSTON -- Bengie Molina was back in the Rangers' lineup on Saturday night, still basking in the glow of hitting for the cycle on Friday night, but also dealing with a sore right quadriceps muscle just above the knee."It's a little sore today," Molina said after getting extensive pregame treatment. "But I think it will ready. I killed it with ice [Friday], so we'll see how it feels." Molina injured the muscle slipping while running around first base as he was legging out his eighth-inning triple. That was the hit that allowed him to become the fifth player in Rangers history and the 14th catcher in Major League history to hit for the cycle. Molina had to be lifted for a pinch-runner after he reached third base. Texas flew Max Ramirez to Boston just in case Molina couldn't go but he told manager Ron Washington he was ready. A problem for Molina is that he has been wearing a standard size shin guard since being acquired from the Giants on July 1. He wore a custom-made shorter pair when he was with the Giants because he has shorter legs than the typical catcher. The standard size is higher up from the knee and the end digs into his leg where he has the strained quadriceps muscle. Molina said they are trying to get him a shorter pair to wear for the Rangers. "The one I had with the Giants is orange and white," Molina said. "I don't think I can wear that here." Molina said it hasn't sunk in yet that he hit for the cycle, although he has been bombarded with phone calls and text messages from family and friends. "I had about 50 text messages and a bunch of phone calls," Molina said. "I've had so much to think about like getting ready to catch Cliff Lee. But it was very special."
Molina started Saturday because Washington wanted him to catch Lee. That's the only Rangers pitcher that Molina hasn't caught since the trade. But Molina is expected to get Sunday and Monday off with Matt Treanor scheduled to start.
Rangers keeping close eye on Lowell
BOSTON -- The Rangers still have interest in Red Sox infielder Mike Lowell, but there are still several hurdles before any trade could be completed.First of all, Lowell has been on the disabled list since June 24 with a strained right hip. He is scheduled to get a cortisone shot on Monday to help loosen the joint and possibly begin a medical rehabilitation assignment on Thursday. That would give him 10 days before the July 31 Trade Deadline to show teams where he stands physically. "I don't think I'm a 31st guy," Lowell said. "I'm going to clear waivers in two seconds. That's not a fear for me. I don't think I have a deadline of that. I don't think there's an urgency for the 31st from another team's standpoint. Secondly, Lowell is making $12 million this season and would still be owed $4 million over the final two months of the season. The Rangers can't afford to pick that up and the Red Sox don't want to eat it. The Red Sox payroll is pushing the luxury tax threshold and it's preventing them from making a major move at the Trade Deadline. If the Red Sox can move Lowell's salary, that would free up money for them to make another move. The Rangers would like Lowell as a right-handed-hitting first baseman and pinch-hitter, and word is he would welcome a trade to Texas "I've heard talks, but I've heard talks for eight months," Lowell said. "I have no idea. I don't know the situations other teams are in, whether it's a need or what, I don't really care to know either. I think you'll drive yourself crazy trying to break down every team. I just want to be in a position where I can play." The Rangers are also interested in Orioles infielder Ty Wiggington, who just appeared in his first All-Star Game. But the Orioles aren't interested in trading him until they get second baseman Brian Roberts back from the disabled list.
Utility infielder Andres Blanco has returned to Texas, where his wife Roseudys has given birth to a son, Fabian. It's the couple's first child. Blanco will miss both Saturday and Sunday's games against the Red Sox, but is expected to rejoin the team Monday in Detroit. ... Darren O'Day has pitched 16 2/3 scoreless innings over his last 16 appearances. It's the third-longest scoreless streak going on in the Majors. ... The Tigers are now listing Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga and Max Scherzer for the three-game series against the Rangers next week at Comerica Park. The Rangers look like they'll face Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir next week during their four-game series against the Angels. Texas' rotation for that series is Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson, Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.